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Another Car Dealership Horror Story....
as told by the unfortunate victim it happened to.

The Used Car Dealership (Ugly Duckling Used Car Dealership a.k.a. Drivetime)

I have been struggling with the phenomenon call life for more than twenty-three years, in which I have laughed, cried and learn for my experiences. The worst of my mistakes so far occurred when I was twenty-two years old.

I had just moved to Florida to start my journey exploring the world. When I moved it was the first time I had ever visited Florida....with $100 in my huge suitcase and a mind full of questions such as: What are you doing here? Are you insane? Do you know anybody here?

I decided that I needed a car. The paycheck-to-paycheck life is not easy: I had rent, a credit card, phone and other expenses. So I got a second job in a shoe store. For seven dollars an hour I had to mess with feet, walk thirteen isles to make sure a shoe was facing its box and even put up with sexual harassment. Well, that's life! So I worked overnight in the warehouse of a bookstore and during the day in the shoe store. I saved some money got my drivers license and started looking for a car.

I called every dealer and everybody turned me down, because of my $600 down payment and no credit history. They wanted $3,000.00 down payments, co-signers, references, even the name of my unborn great-grandchildren! I was so desperate I would take anything. So I called this place I heard on the radio; Ugly Duckling Used Car Dealership also known as Drivetime. They pre-approved me over the phone, so I went there with my savings and my hopes.

They treated me like a queen. Offering drinks, complementing me, I felt like a superstar in a luxurious spa in Los Angeles. They accepted my down payment and I was thrilled. They started showing me cars, the first one the most beautiful and spacious, then they showed me the not so nice ones, that's how they get us! Of coarse I went for the first one, it had a sticker with the words low mileage on it. Huh? I know about low mileage, about the same that I know about open heart surgery, absolutely nothing.

They sold me a Pontiac Grand AM with 80,000 miles on it for $8,000 (And yes, I mean U.S. dollars), and that's not all, with the low interest rate of 29% everything added up to more than $12,000!

I was so ignorant, I'm sorry; I meant that I was so dumb, that I didn't even bother to check the value of the car in the blue book. I was trapped in the dealership for 6 endless hours, my hand was hurting from all the papers I had to sign: checks, insurance, an agreement of not to sue, papers that I didn't even understand and the contract, which I now believe that if I had signed a contract with Lucifer I could have got a better deal.

Two days after the deal of a lifetime, the engine started having problems, they took the car and made repairs. A month later the brakes were working like a fast food employee after five hours of overtime, so they took the car again and made repairs. I didn't care, as long as I had the car it was fine. They gave me the car back and everything went fine for the next couple of days, not so good were my personal finances.

The shoe business was not going so well so the management laid off half of the employees, myself included. I prayed everyday to find a second job, so that I can afford the easy biweekly payments of $200. I did it all. I worked as customer service clerk, operator, I even went as low as I have ever been, I was a dreadful telemarketer.

One beautiful day at 7:45 AM I was driving towards work, when a 70 year old looking man hit my car with his truck. The poor man got out of the car nervous and apologizing. I told him: Hey, stuff happens, without knowing that it was the beginning of the end for me.

I contacted the guy's insurance company, within a couple of days after placing the claim I received the outrageous news that the car was totaled. WHAT? She replied: When the repairs of a car exceed its value the car is considered totaled. The nice lady with her angelical voice proceeded to tell me the value of the car. $2,936! I sat down with my mouth open and after a half hour of hallucinations and criminal thoughts, I called back the nice lady of the insurance company and told her what I owed on the car.

She got in contact with Ugly Duckling and explained the situation. Ugly Duckling took the money from the insurance and wanted to charge me the difference, which was more that $5500. I knew that it was not right. What was I supposed to do? They were bigger, stronger and their only purpose in life was to take advantage and abuse the small and defenseless girls. I was financially raped! For someone that lives paycheck to paycheck at $7.00 an hour $5500 means more that 785 hours of work, that's of coarse before tax, for a car that I don't have, that was totaled by someone else, whose insurance paid already the street value of.

I consulted with an attorney who charged me $112, he asked me about Gap Insurance. What does the clothing store have to do with this? He then proceeded to explain how gap insurance is essential when buying a car in one of these places. Then he told me it was my fault for signing the contract and that I have to learn from this experience, he wasn't surprised, according to him he has cases like that every week.

Advice for car buyers:

If you are going to buy a used car, save enough and buy it from the owner, preferably a first time owner, and have the car checked by a mechanic before buying it.

Sacrifice. Better cry first and enjoy later, than the other way around.

Knowledge is power, so if you can't buy a used car cash, know everything you need before you enter in a contract with a buy here pay here dealership, or any type of scam artists salesman.

Remember Gap Insurance. is not related to the clothing store.

My only satisfaction is that someone will read this story and will learn from my experience without having to suffer from it. If I can save one person, from becoming a financial prisoner all of this would be worth it.

Orlando, FL

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